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Old 09-23-2010, 07:30 PM   #1
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Question Lunging cross firing

I have a yearling that I started to teach how to lunge. Everything is going beyond great. She walks quietly, jogs great, lopes to the left perfect. Turns on her hock to go the other way, walks quietly to the right, jogs to the right, then the problem, she has a hard time holding the right lope, she drops her inside back leg and cross fires. Some nights she doesn't do it, other nights I can only get three strides before she cross fires.

Here is what I have done.
I had the vet come out and x-ray everything in the back right leg. X-rays are clean. She flexed fine and the vet found nothing wrong with her. I put on a surcingle with rubber side reins. She still does it.

I am at a loose. Please help!
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:50 PM   #2
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That's easy - the yearling's back is weak or weaker on one side than the other. That is, it's back muscles aren't developed enough (or even enough) to maintain the lope/canter on one side.

What you want to do is trot the horse more and don't worry about the lope too much at this stage all the time keeping in mind that it's a young horse and you don't want to over work or over stress a growing horse. Avoid lunging on tight circles. You should be able to get a noticeable improvement in a couple of weeks with less than moderate work.

Observe the horse to see that muscular development is equal (or relatively close) on both sides.

It's the same thing with older horses that cross fire /cross canter - they just need a little strengthening in the hind end and back.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:19 PM   #3
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Fortune use to do the same thing. He was weak going to his left on the ground or being ridden. My Instructor told me it was lack of balance and muscles mostly topline muscles. So we went back to the trot on the ground for about 2-3 weeks. I did a lot of work on hills or small jumps for about 20 minutes 3-4 times a week and noticed a big difference. His canter had greatly improved.

Don't use side reins or bit rigs. It will only make the problem worse. It will only make your horse tense and cause pain.

Good Luck!

Very well said by Gilmorehorsemanship
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Last edited by For8tune; 09-23-2010 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 09-23-2010, 10:09 PM   #4
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Just as some people are left or right handed, horses are too. Some (most) horses are naturally more coordinated and stonger on one side than the other. Even an older horse will do this when first learning how to lunge. It is not a soundness issue, just a balance issue that takes time for them to work thru. With more practice she will relax and get stronger and fix herself. The more you fuss over it the more tense she will be and the harder time she will have with it. Also, if you are pulling on her head when she is trying to lope you will be making her hip go to the outside and she will have a harder time being correct. My guess the reason she only does it sometimes is at times she is more relaxed than other times. The less they think about or anticipate it (and less you fuss over it) the more relaxed they are and that is normally when they lope smoother and more correct. Since she is a yearling don't work her too much or drill on loping too long.
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Old 09-24-2010, 08:38 AM   #5
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All great advice!

I totally agree that when she doesn't drop the back end, she is more relaxed, her lope is slower. She is so sensitive on the lunge line, even if there is the slightest tension on the line, her head tips in and the hip tilts out, thus dropping the back end.

How long is too much for lunging? I am scared to over work her, yet I want her to continue to improve? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? I lost my show mare to a sudden heart attack in May, so I am super sensitive to the slightest over doing it.

Also do I ask for the bad lope or only work long trotting, loping her good direction?

Thank you
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Old 09-24-2010, 10:13 AM   #6
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Lope her both ways. She has to work the "bad" direction in order to get stronger and more comfortable doing it. If you only work her "good" way you will have a completely one sided horse. With a youngster you run the risk of injuring joints instead of heart attack - especially with lunging. The stress of always going in a circle is hard on their legs. How big a circle do you work her in? A bigger circle will be easier on her, both her joints and her being able to relax and lope correctly. If she is very sensitive to a line, can you free lunge her in a round pen? Ideally ponying is the best as you can do both straight lines and circles, but many of us do not have the ideal pony horse or the area in which to do it. (I am working with a gelding now to a have a good pony horse for future use myself) As for how long to work depends on her level of fitness. Anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes usually is all I will lunge a youngster. That is working at all gaits with trasitions and changing directions. Ponying she could go slightly longer but still I wouldn't want to stress her. If she wants to go out there and run around fast then she needs more free turnout/play time to work off the energy and help clear her mind.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:51 AM   #7
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I agree with what has been said, both the strength building and not too lunge a young horse too much.
You are way better ponying them and allowing free turn out and play with another young horse
Are you planning on showing this horse in yearling lunge line or halter?
If not, I leave the lunging until I am starting them under saddle, bitting them up at the same time.
A common fault of lunging is for a horse to drop that inside shoulder, thus when bitting them up gradually, first, I do it at the jog and walk. Once they are to the point that they understand how to give to the bit, face on verticle, I tie the inside rein just a bit shorter than the outside , to keep that inside shoulder up
Then, if you use the lunge whip to make sure they are driving up from behind, if no physical reason exists,far as soreness, they will not cross fire
A horse cross fires when he is not driving up from behind, as leads start in the back, not the front
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Old 09-24-2010, 12:40 PM   #8
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All sounds like great advice. I don't have much time left this year for yearling lunge line, but I sure would like to try it. Her fully brother was reserve APHA worlds lunge liner a couple years ago, so I know she can do it.

She has been lunging for a couple months now, so we just introduced the surcingle to see if that could help her with her lead issue. To get her use to some pressure on her girth area also. Once she accepted that, only then did we add the side reins. Every time now she is first warmed up without the surcingle, once she is warmed up, then we put it on her with the side reins, the inside is a little shorter than the outside rein.

It sounds like I am doing things correctly, I just need to relax and not freak out about it. It will all come together.

Thank you all again for your great advice.
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